A personal loss, the birth of “Dear Prospects”, and where a tragedy has left me…

So if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d love to link you to a short story of mine, “Dear Prospects”, which I uploaded here yesterday~!

Whether you’ve seen it or not though, I wanted to use today as an opportunity to look back on my writing here and what exactly inspired it…

But, as a forewarning, my blog for you today’s much more personal than anything I’ve previously posted… If that’s fine by you though, then I hope you’ll read to the end! It’s something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a while… (^_^*)

“Trees should blend their roots and shade…”

As an avid RPG player, side quests are basically ubiquitous to me—I’ve played a lot of amazing ones, a lot of boring ones, and a lot of others too meh to really remember!

And as much ire as Genshin Impact gets from a vocal minority of gaming elitists, I want to say: this game is, in terms of narrative, gameplay, and quality, probably one of the best games that will come out this decade!

This is a game that has, in all honesty, made me cry much more than others—I won’t spoil anything major for your sake~! But as the quest I wanna talk about’s been out since the game’s first release, I feel safe talking about it a bit…

One of the areas in the game is an abandoned mining village named Mingyun (明蕴), where we can get a quest as soon as we enter!

~A sign at the entrance to the abandoned village~

If my memory serves me well, there’s a ghost of an old man you can find in the village, who speaks about wishing to move out of the town and start over again…

Whatever he means isn’t clear to us yet, but in one of the ruined houses, we find a note seemingly left from the same man, which comprises a cryptic hint for the man’s three sons to find treasure that he left behind for them!

~The note was in one of these houses~

In his note, one message stands out for later:

Unite, and you shall share in its blessing.

Given the letter implies that the father’s ill, and it’s marked as his will, well… we have quite a set-up here, don’t we?

From here, our goal is basically to look around the abandoned town for where this treasure could be!

We check four spots total, all in ruined mines scattered around the mountainous terrain, and at the first three spots, we encounter the ghosts of each of the three sons, bickering and racing against one another as they rush to hoard the treasure for themselves.

~One of the mines we check~

At the final spot, instead of either of these three, we instead meet the father’s ghost again, who simply sighs in disappointment at the feud his family’s descended into.

Yet… we still don’t have the treasure anywhere, so where do we check next~?

We take a look at the will again, and this time focus on his mention of:

The tree who stands alone has no forest to call his home.

And luckily for us, on one of the highest cliffs surrounding the village, there’s a lone tree matching that description! Much taller and grander than any other trees in the area.

So, in a last push to search for the treasure, we head up there, approach the tree, and sense… something.

~The tree in question, at sunset~

Something buried in the plot we’re standing on.

Sure enough, we dig a bit, and find a hefty chest—the treasure at last!

But it’s also here where we find out what really happened.

The father’s ghost returns, alongside the ghosts of his three sons, and he lectures them for fighting each other for the treasure, revealing that the chest, in fact, contained riches and trinkets he’d slowly saved up over the years, in the hopes that, someday, he and his family could look back at this collection and revel in memories…

But instead, we see that the selfishness of each of the sons not only damaged their relationships with one another, but also left their already-dying father in a state of despair at what his family’s become. 。・°°・(>_<)・°°・。

The ghosts disappear, and we contemplate for a bit as to whether we should collect the treasure or not. Our companion mentions that, perhaps, this family could come back someday to finally take these items for themselves, but given how much time has passed… and the fact we see everyone involved as ghosts…

Honestly, it’s kind of anyone’s guess what really happened after that reveal.

~Bonus shot of the village~

Personally, just given what I saw being said and how eager everyone seemed to take all the treasure… I have a pretty-pessimistic view on how the sons ended up as ghosts afterwards, but that’s just my take of course—the open-ended way this quest concludes is really good in a solemn way…

But that final reveal of the quest really struck something in me I didn’t expect.

This little storyline was the first of many times this game made me cry, and the reason why is…

I hope you can bear with me on this ( ; ; )

“For that is where the home is made…”

When we wake up everyday, we rarely expect anything bad to really happen to us, and when most of a day goes alright, it’s even harder for me to break out of that sense of security…

One night, I’d just finished eating dinner earlier than my family—given it was a pretty slow day, I took a nap to refresh myself after a day of work.

I had some sweet dreams about my friends in a bank~ It’s weird now looking back, but that was an hour or so of just slumber that left me entirely detached from the world around me (^_^)

Then some loud thumps echoed from somewhere.

My vision was blurry, my hearing was still messy, but on such a normal day, it’s especially unusual for a traditional East Asian household to be so… loud.

And then came a frantic doorbell, a lot of running, panicked speaking…

By the time I was up and moving from my nap, I was the last person in the household to hear the news.

To my knowledge, I was the only one who didn’t see at all what had happened, but I returned and sulked for the next hour or so, until we got the call.

My paternal grandfather had just passed away.

I didn’t know what happened, just that it was near-instantaneous.

Knowing that he always wanted to go out painlessly like that helped ease me just a little, but I went back to sleep early that night, and for many nights thereafter, at least until after the initial services were finished…

The day of the internment at the temple gave me a lot of closure at the time, but, as with losing anyone close, some things just don’t really leave you, you know?

That night is still one of the most vivid memories I have of recent years, and there’s a part of me that can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t taken that nap…

If I was there to see what happened, how would I have turned out after?

If I’d heard and saw what happened that night, instead of being woken up into it, would my emotional scars have been deeper?

I honestly… don’t really want to know the answer.

But that time was a challenge for almost everyone around me, and even now, almost two years on, I get the impression that none of us have fully recovered from something so… well, sudden.

I only knew one way to try and make sense of what I was feeling, and when the opportunity presented itself…

“An ornament frozen in time, always grasping at the same minute in the hopes it may some day serve its purpose.”

In the end, I knew well enough that I couldn’t let the pain hit me for long!

I fear sometimes that people might say I move on too fast, and while that’s partly down to some of my disagreements with our traditions, I also don’t blame anyone who gets that impression…

The same week as the final internment, I’d already put together some of my life back: I was back to my bubbly self my friends were used to, I’d returned to writing my 6th manuscript, and I was finding motivation again to carry on with my usual work after an entire period of feeling drained!

But it’s really fitting to compare this kind of loss to a scar.

While I feel letting out my emotions early on helped me move past faster, there are still imprints and impacts that will take much longer to heal… if ever.

I wrote Dear Prospects around several weeks after all of that happened, and my idea was basically to feature someone completely-unlike me, physically and mentally, in a very similar position to the one I was in…

Our protagonist, with the pretty-grand name of Adair Isidor Priestly-Eccleston, is someone I imagined as a middle-aged man who’s in a state of confusion in the aftermath of losing his mother.

That’s kind of the premise of my story—His dream reminding him of the thoughts and emotions he may be repressing, as is sadly too common with men especially in this scenario.

Everything from social expectations I’ve seen myself, to a friend’s personal experiences, helped me craft Adair’s experiences better, but every now and then, he writes things that I feel reflect more about me than him.

I didn’t know what was on it or what the rest of the room looked like, but that image of something so familiar lying right there in front of me filled me with this… torrent of comfort I may never feel again.

Because yeah… familiarity is comfort, isn’t it?

In an odd irony, every now and then when I let emotions out, I’m taken back to how much I cried and ranted back when this first happened, and it gives me that sense of comfort… that I’m still the same person as I always was, with the same ways of trying to cope with problems…

And in that way… Dear Prospects was kind of a turning point for my writing…

“Talk about the old times…”

I don’t mean to say this to devalue anyone writing these of course-!

But I feel like when it comes to most genres like romance or action or thrillers, anyone can write them as long as they have the experience, skills, and feedback necessary, right?

So what about writing out of your personal experiences?

Your anxieties?

Your fears?

Your desires?

Maybe I just think I’m special~ but Dear Prospects made me realise that, if there was anything I could write that nobody else could, it would have to be about something from within me, right?

My way of coping with loss through letting the emotions out, leaning on others for comfort, then expressing my thoughts through writing isn’t something everyone does… A lot of people do, sure!

But not everyone, and that’s what I love focusing on.

Since Dear Prospects, every book and story I have written has centred on a different fear or anxiety of mine, from mortality, to identity, to memory, to security, to stability, to society, to expectations…

Everything representing, as best as I can anyways, my perspectives on things and the dreams, desires, and despairs flowing through my mind in that very moment…

This level of personal connection’s honestly what’s kept me motivated to write after my thirst for adrenaline rushes ran out, and to this day?

I don’t really have any regrets~!

I just wish what led me to this point didn’t have to be so painful…

…but it’s a part of life, isn’t it?

I don’t think I’ve written anything this personal yet, so if you’ve stuck around until here, then just know I can’t thank you enough! (^з^)-☆

I’m sure we’ve all had our experiences like this, and our own ways of dealing with things… and maybe if you’re comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear some of your own too—if only so we can share our lasting grief in a safer place (>_<)

But whatever the case… All the more love to ‘ya!

And please, wherever and whoever you are, keep the people around you as close as you can… because sometimes, it really is too late for us to realise these things. (T-T)

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